Tease (Page 40)

Tease (Take It Off #2)(40)
Author: Cambria Hebert

Cam frowned. “Come on, let’s go somewhere else to talk.”

We went to the beach, both of us discarding our shoes to the back seat of my car and taking our ice cream to walk onto the sand and wander along the water’s edge. The heat was more bearable here because of the strong wind that came off the waves.

“This is going to sound crazy,” I said as we walked. “But I’m starting to worry that it wasn’t Craig the other night.”

“Who do you think it was?”

“I don’t know. But I have this bad feeling they were after me.”

His hand found mine and linked us together. “Explain.”

“You know the barrette I lost, the one someone took off the cart the other day?”

He nodded.

“It was in my bedroom.”

His steps faltered. “So you just misplaced it?”

“No. I had it at work that day. It’s the only barrette I have like that. Someone took it… and then it turned up in my bedroom.”

He stopped walking altogether and pulled me around so we were standing in the waves, facing each other.

“You think the person in your apartment the other night broke in to leave something there?”

“I know it sounds crazy.”

His fingers tightened around mine. “I believe you.”

“You do?”

“I’m on your side. I’ll always believe you.”

I don’t know why, but tears pricked the backs of my eyes. I blinked furiously, trying to make them go away. Cam took my melting ice cream cone and put it inside his half-eaten waffle bowl, setting them both in the sand.

He pulled me into his arms, wrapping them both around me, holding me close and resting his chin atop my head. “Why didn’t you say something sooner, sweetheart?”

“At first I thought I was just being irrational. But the more I think about it…”

“There’s more?”

I nodded. He sighed and bent to pick up the now waterlogged ice cream and jogged over to throw it in a nearby trash can. Then we sat on the sand.

“Roxie took my car that night,” I began. “She and I have similar looks… Both of us have long dark hair. We’re both curvy…”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying what if someone was watching the house that night, waiting for me to come home? She pulled up in my car. From a distance and in the dark, someone could mistake her for me.”

“Okay, I could see that,” he said slowly. Tension began to radiate from his body and that’s when I knew for sure I wasn’t just being paranoid. This was a real possibility.

“But there’s still that jerk Craig. He isn’t exactly a boy scout.” Cam continued.

“Roxie all but admitted that he was violent with her in the past.”

“There is a possibility it was actually Craig, you know.”

“Yeah, I know.” I said it softly and the wind took my words and carried them away.

“But you’re scared.” His arm went around my waist, his fingers splaying out across my belly. He slid my body into his side and I leaned my head on his chest.

I sighed. I could sit like this—curled into his side—all day. “Maybe a little.”

“It’s okay to be scared,” he told me. “It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart.”

“How does being scared make me smart?”

“Because it’s your body and mind’s way of protecting itself. Your brain is telling you something’s wrong. Ignoring that feeling will only put you in danger and possibly cause you to miss things that could potentially save your life.”

I tipped back my head. “You’re a smart guy, Cam.”

“I know.”

I grinned. “So modest too.”

“That’s me, babe. Modest and smart and extremely good-looking.”

“Did I say you were extremely good-looking?”

“You didn’t have to. Your eyes say it all.”

“You’re okay I guess,” I said playfully.

He let go of my waist and began feeling around my head.

“What are you doing?”

“Checking to see if that bump is still there. I think it damaged your mind when you fell.”

“Ha. Ha.”

He pressed a kiss to my forehead. “Want me to stay at your place tonight?”

I did. I knew I would feel better if he were there. “You don’t have to do that. I’ll be okay.”

“I know I don’t have to. I want to. Sleeping with you is a lot more exciting than sleeping alone.”

“Do you sleep alone often?” I asked before I could cut off the urge to speak. “That’s not really any of my business,” I amended.

“I sleep alone every night I’m not with you.”

It made me wonder who he slept with before we met, but thankfully I was able to contain that little gem of thought before I said it out loud.

We sat in silence for a long minute and I rested against his side, staring out over the endless blue ocean. “I’ve slept with other women before,” he said softly. “I’ve dated a couple along the way.”

I held my breath, wondering where this was going.

“Adam might not have been too far off when he said I was a player.”

My stomach plummeted and I felt my body tense.

“But I swear I haven’t thought about… I haven’t even looked at another woman since you walked into the Mad Hatter and sat down in that freaking sexy sundress.”

It certainly wasn’t a declaration of love, but it was more than enough to make my heart skip a beat. “I’d really like if you stayed tonight. I would sleep better.”

“You mean we have to sleep?” he purred, his hand moving up and covering my breast, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“That depends.” I ran my hand up his arm still resting on my chest.

“On?”

“First one to the water gets to make the rules.”

“We’re not wearing bathing suits.”

“Awww, Cam doesn’t want to get his fancy board shorts wet.” I braced myself, ready to run.

His eyes narrowed. I laughed and leapt up off the sand and raced toward the water.

Here’s the thing: challenging an athletic guy who has legs almost two times longer than yours is stupid.

Unless of course you wanted to lose.

I didn’t, however, mean to trip over my own feet and fall. Cam caught me around the waist and lifted me off my feet, carrying me into the water as I shrieked.